Continued from page 1

The conventional wisdom that Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, is heir apparent as secretary of state is wrong, Mr. Schwartz said.

“With the strong possibility that [recently defeated GOP Sen.] Scott Brown could win [Mr. Kerry’s] Senate seat in a special election, I don’t believe the administration will risk that. Jack Reed’s [Rhode Island] seat should he be named secretary of defense is a much safer bet to stay in the ‘D’ column,” he said.

A brief farewell

In his statement, Mr. Obama also praised the military career of the 60-year-old Gen. Petraeus, who is “known for his iron discipline and can run two miles in less than 10 minutes.”

He said the the general had helped “our military adapt to new challenges,” led “our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end.”

“As director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has continued to serve with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication, and patriotism,” Mr. Obama said. “By any measure, through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger.”

The White House at first stonewalled media inquiries about the CIA director’s future. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at about 2:30 p.m. Friday that he had no information on Gen. Petraeus and that Mr. Obama believed he was doing an excellent job.

Mr. Obama delivered a short speech on the economy at 1 p.m. at the White House and, had news of Gen. Petraeus‘ resignation leaked out before the president’s address, it could have overshadowed Mr. Obama’s remarks.

Gen. Petraeus wrote to CIA employees: “I want you to know that it has been the greatest of privileges to have served with you, the officers of our nation’s Silent Service, a workforce that is truly exceptional in every regard.”

The CIA head, who, as a general, won wide praise for his leadership of the military surge that helped turn around the U.S. mission in Iraq, added: “I will always regret the circumstances that brought that work with you to an end.”

He closed the letter “With admiration and appreciation, David H. Petraeus.”

Military affairs analyst Thomas Ricks reported on his blog that the “surprise to me is that Obama let him go.”

Mr. Obama said: “Going forward, my thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Holly Petraeus, who has done so much to help military families through her own work. I wish them the very best at this difficult time.”

The general’s wife, Holly Petraeus holds a post in the administration as associate director of service member affairs at the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Gen. Petraeus was named CIA director in April 2011, replacing Mr. Panetta, who took over at the Pentagon to become defense secretary.

Story Continues →